Equal opportunities for career progression is what tops the priority list for many women seeking employment. This is followed and compounded by factors like flexi hours, company reputation, convenient location, and a role that drives you.
With undeniable, but reducing, gender gaps in the global workforce, career development opportunities for women need to be accelerated to ensure more females in leadership roles.
Many studies show that the pay differential, although a serious matter, is not what really gets under the skin of female employees. It is the persistent feeling that they are being denied the chance to progress and a level playing field with equal opportunities to grow.
A survey by The Happiness Index into workplace happiness also revealed that regardless of sector and company size, women did not feel as valued as their male colleagues. This needs urgent addressing and some positive instances may work as a test case; the story of Mahrukh Batool should serve as one.
Mahrukh is working as Manager Activations at Telenor Pakistan, a role that she loves. She is one of those employees who laid the company’s foundations. “I was one of the first 100 employees,” she proudly reveals. Mahrukh did her MBA in Finance, taught at a renowned national university and worked for a private bank before joining Telenor Pakistan.
“I had to move to Lahore from Islamabad for the job, something my parents reluctantly approved of,” Mahrukh shares. She tells that she was very excited about this opportunity and had all the energy to help Telenor grow in the new market that was Pakistan.
“I trained 650 employees in customer care and in 2005 we onboarded the first batch of our customer care representatives. The work was demanding, and I was energetic with all the support from my colleagues and management. They put their trust in me and gave me the opportunity to prove my mettle,” says Mahrukh. “We saw success in all our projects and the hard work started paying off with immediate results. Within years we made Telenor Pakistan grow into the country’s second largest telecom operator.”
But Mahrukh’s parents wanted their beloved daughter back with them, “So, I had to move back to Islamabad and was not sure what would become of my career. But Telenor allowed me to resume my career at the organization by offering me a different role in Islamabad in the digital marketing department that was still in its infancy at the time.”
Mahrukh always wanted to explore new things and Telenor gave her the opportunity to grow and explore her areas of interest. In 2009, Mahrukh deiced to move to ‘Out-Of-Home’ marketing, a male dominated domain at that time.
“Everyone I met told me it was a tough job and that it would be a challenge for me being a woman. All this pushed me even more to go for this role and prove that I was bigger than the challenge that they thought existed,” she says. “I successfully managed 40 vendors and was promoted in the same department. I had proven many wrong.”
Another opportunity in Mahrukh’s career came in 2012 when she went on a rotation in the Brands team, a job that she had always dreamed of. She put the best of her efforts and she was promoted as Brand Manager amid very stiff internal and external competition. “Being a woman who is managing family and career means double the responsibilities as that of a man.
Things got challenging but with hard work, support from the family, colleagues and God’s grace, I was able to achieve success. Above all was the tremendous support and career growth opportunities I received at Telenor that made me what I am today.
It’s no secret how tough it is for working women to juggle home and work, but organizations like Telenor, that provide growth and development opportunities with work-life balance, can make us succeed at both,” she adds.